Your attention please: The Cardinals are NOT the team with the fewest wins to take the World Series

Posted by Scott Wuerz on October 21, 2013 

Just to clear things up, since every time the Cardinals have made the playoffs in the last seven years we have to listen to the same refrain, the 2006 Redbirds are not the team with the lowest total number of wins to claim the World Series championship.

That dubious honor belongs the the 1981 Los Angeles Dodgers who won the World Series with only 63 regular season wins to their credit. So let's get our facts correct.

Now I know the people who think this kind of barb has any merit are going to instantly point out that the 1981 season was a strike. Yeah, so? As far as I know, 83 is still more than 63. And may I point out that, while you seem to think the baseball universe got hosed because the Redbirds went all the way after backing into the playoffs with a record just over .500, let me point out a couple of other things.

First, the Cardinals didn't make the rules. They just played by them. If your team was so much superior to St. Louis that it deserved to win the 2006 World Series, why didn't it? Second, it cuts both ways: While the Cardinals benefitted seven seasons ago, in that 1981 season they were hosed more than any other team had been hosed in the history of the regular season.

Whitey Herzog's '81 Cardinals had the best record in the National League East that season. Yet they didn't even get to BE in the playoffs because a make-it-up-as-they-went-along decision by baseball leaders to take the team with the best record before the strike and the best record after the strike and let them play each other for the division championship. It marked the first time in history that the team with the best overall record for the season wasn't declared the division winner. 

St. Louis was second to the Philadelphia Phillies before the strike and was second to the Montreal Expos after it. But the Cardinals had a better overall record than both of those clubs.

Oddly, a story I read today mentioned the Cardinals had the lowest total since the 1918 season which was cut short due to World War I. That year the Red Sox were 75-51. So that makes two teams that had less wins to claim a World Series title. Why do the 1918 Sox count but not the 1981 Dodgers?

And then there were the 1973 Mets who at 82-79 barely lost the World Series to Oakland. If only the Mets had managed to win one more game maybe we wouldn't have to listen to the amateur historians mangle the record book.

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